Hairballs are the result of an accumulation of hair that has built up inside your cat’s stomach or small intestine after he has groomed himself and swallowed some of the hair. Hairballs are usually vomited back up in time if they build up to such an extent that they cannot naturally pass through your cat’s digestive system, but what can you do to control your cat’s hairballs?
Signs of Hairball Obstruction
Other than the obvious sign of hairballs when you notice them deposited around your home, other signs to be on the look out for include excessive vomiting, which usually occurs right after eating, a distended abdomen, refusal to eat or drink or evidence of diarrhoea or constipation. Hairballs that have not been passed or vomited back up can cause an obstruction in the bowel, which is potentially dangerous for your cat.
Medical Treatment Options
If your cat appears to be struggling with hairballs, you will need to take him to the vet for treatment. The vet will be able to offer a complete medical examination and see if the hairballs have caused an obstruction. According to the article Handling Hairballs, on the Petsmart.com site, the vet will likely perform a radiograph by taking pictures to see whether there is a hairball in the stomach or intestines that is responsible for causing a blockage.
If your cat has a hairball obstruction, the treatment options will involve abdominal surgery to remove the obstruction, which will offer relief to your cat. Once your cat recovers from surgery, you will be advised on maintenance of the condition so that your cat does not have to suffer from any further hairball obstructions. Products that are administered daily will lubricate the stomach, making it easier for hairballs to be passed naturally through the digestive tract.
Grooming and Preventative Treatments
Regular grooming can help to prevent the build up of hairballs in your cat’s stomach and small intestine, as well as regular doses of hairball control products. Longhair cats are especially prone to hairballs, which is why care should be taken to ensure hairballs do not build up, causing any further obstructions.
Hairballs are a part of everyday life for cats, but if your cat does not successfully pass the hairballs or vomit them back up, they can cause a hairball obstruction, which will require surgery. Signs of a hairball obstruction include excessive vomiting, a distended abdomen and a refusal to eat or drink. Take your cat along to see the vet for a physical examination and follow the vet’s advice on treatment options.
Petsmart.com, Handling Hairballs.